Friday, May 29, 2015
According to Moore's research, the cartoons have taken material from cartoonists Jeff Parker, Walt Handelsman, and Mike Shapiro, among others.
Moore acknowledges readily in his post that he is "the target of many of the Sentinel's cartoons," but says he is "truly offended by the Sentinel’s laziness and its disregard for the intellectual property of its journalism colleagues."
At face value, the evidence Moore presents is certainly credible and compelling. If there was a licensing arrangement permitting use of the artwork, similar to stock photography, obviously only the paper or cartoonist can speak to that. At least one of the cartoonists Moore quoted, Shapiro, seemed to have no awareness that his work had been used.
If the cartoons' creator, William Charles, or The Sentinel would like to respond with their side of the story, I will be glad to print their response. Email me at robert1999 [at] hotmail [dot] com.
Photo courtesy City of Rockville
Thursday, May 28, 2015
The new street, which runs between E. Middle Lane and the Regal Cinemas alongside the Cambria Hotel & Suites, shares a name with a competing hotel brand. As it turned out, the one point the commission agreed upon was that the names suggested by Choice weren't adequate to justify the change.
Among the names floated by Choice's application request are Exchange Drive, Catalyst Drive, Synergy Road and Innovation Drive. Commissioner Jack Leiderman found those "frankly, boring" compared to the existing Renaissance name. He said that one company's anxiety over branding shouldn't outweigh the interests of citizens, businesses and other stakeholders, and that there was a substantial public investment in the redevelopment there over the years.
Commissioner David Hill argued that Choice Hotels had made a significant investment in the city, by locating its international headquarters there. Leiderman noted that the city had already acquiesced to allow Choice to name its tiny street in front of its building a few years ago.
Chair Don Hadley and Commissioner John Tyner were willing to consider the request, even offering some potential names or concepts. Tyner felt the name should reflect activity, while Hadley suggested that the city contemplate a name that reflects public use. Hill threw out "Agora", the Greek term for "gathering space."
Commissioner Charles Littlefield said he would be more inclined to take the request seriously if the company showed it, too, was serious by sending a representative to engage the commission.
Staff Liaison Andrew Gunning said he would attempt to get some public input on the name change, if feasible. The issue will return for further discussion and update at the next two meetings, on June 10 and June 18.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Importantly, the proposed options for the new name have changed. The new choices (no pun intended) are Exchange Drive, Catalyst Drive, Synergy Road and Innovation Drive.
This is the only main agenda item for the commission tonight. The meeting will be at 7:30 PM at City Hall, and will also be broadcast live on Rockville Channel 11.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The hotel chain's headquarters is directly across E. Middle Lane.
I'm surprised there was no ribbon-cutting announced to the press. How will the public know the hotel is open without press coverage?
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Councilmember Beryl Feinberg proposed an amendment to the budget, which would set aside $1.2 million from the unassigned general fund balance to pay for the Compensation and Class Study costs, which have not yet been determined.
The addition was opposed by Councilmembers Tom Moore and Julie Palakovich Carr. Moore said "there's no one of us who cares more about the employees than the other," but argued that setting a specific amount would raise expectations, and box the city in at a later date.
"I respectfully disagree," Feinberg said. She described the amendment as being "a transparency issue for our residents," to give them advance notice of a possible expense not covered in the budget being passed last night. City Budget and Finance Director Stacey Webster said the city would not be tied to a specific figure even if one was included in the budget. Feinberg said the reserves would be simply a "placeholder," not a fixed expense.
Palakovich Carr was concerned that the Mayor and Council "may be sending the wrong message," in only setting aside funds for those employees who are compensated from the general fund.
Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said it was "incumbent upon us as stewards of this city...that we show a good faith effort" regarding employees and the budget.
The reserves amendment passed 3-2, with Moore and Palakovich Carr opposed. Ultimately, the Mayor and Council unanimously passed the FY2016 budget. The trash fee vote was unanimous, as well.
Photo courtesy City of Rockville
Monday, May 18, 2015
Pepco is projecting restoration for these areas in the 6:00-7:00 PM hour tonight.
Detectives caught up to Scott Tomaszewski on a cruise ship in Juneau, Alaska on Saturday afternoon eastern time. They say they found evidence, including blood, allegedly tying Tomaszewski to the murders. Tomaszewski is also suspected of having robbed the Vilardos in the past, as well as in burglaries on the street all three call home, Ridge Drive, just last month.
In fact, police report that the Vilardos entrusted Tomaszweski as a house sitter, giving their longtime next-door neighbor access to their home while they traveled.
Tomaszewski has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of armed robbery, and one count of first degree burglary. Once the extradition process is completed in Alaska, Scott Tomaszewski will be transported to Montgomery County for arraignment.
The Vilardo family has released a statement thanking Montgomery County Police, saying their efforts have helped them "take the first step on the long road to healing."
Photo courtesy Montgomery County Police
Friday, May 15, 2015
So you might be surprised to find that Healthy Montgomery plans to reward county students with gift cards for sugary, fat-filled drinks at Starbucks.
County high school students are invited to a Healthy Montgomery-sponsored "community conversation" at Suburban Hospital on May 21, to "discuss what they think about health and the quality of life in Montgomery County." For attending, the event announcement says, the students will be rewarded with a free "$5 Starbucks drink card". They'll also get a Chipotle gift card.
The most popular Starbucks drinks are loaded with sugar, and are often high in fat, as well. Many have more grams of sugar than the often-demonized 12 oz. Coca-Cola. They certainly exceed the recommended daily intake of sugar.
Chipotle isn't exactly health food, either. The average order at Chipotle comes in at around 1,070 calories, 75% of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat, and a whopping nearly-2,400 milligrams of sodium.
This is not only hypocrisy at taxpayer expense, but absurd when one considers Council President Leventhal's longstanding crusade against fast food restaurants in the county.
In 2008, Leventhal was quoted as saying, "school policies should support parents, and not let junk-food marketers go around parents’ backs directly to young children." Yet, the Healthy Montgomery initiative he co-chairs is literally going around parents' backs, and delivering Starbucks and Chipotle marketing and food "directly to young children." "It’s incredible, the extent to which our kids are subjected to [fast food] advertising," Leventhal told an audience of students and parents in 2007.
Sure, you can absolutely order healthy food and drinks at Starbucks and Chipotle. But you can at McDonald's and Wendy's, as well. Leventhal memorably took a publicity stunt trip to Wendy's, remarking on the nutritional content of the Baconator. He didn't mention that Wendy's also offers a line of salads and baked potatoes that are far healthier than the average Starbucks or Chipotle order.
The county just added new taxes on electronic cigarettes and Airbnb. And as Bill Turque writes in the Washington Post, the just-approved County budget increases spending by about $90 million, and your property tax bill "will tick upward slightly." A new property tax increase is being floated for next year's budget. And a majority of the Council voted to keep the Energy Tax the same, despite having promised to eliminate the massive increase it passed in 2010 in 2012. They lied to taxpayers. Period.
It's amazing that residents will be paying more and new taxes, under a new county budget that is bigger than last year's, and yet there is somehow money left for escapades such as this.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Developers will also now receive a possible two extensions - the first will be a one-year extension, and the second, a 6-month extension.
Establishing the new policy "gives the applicant an opportunity, and the city, to get all of their ducks in a row. I think this is a good rule for us to have," Councilmember Tom Moore said prior to the vote.
The Mayor and Council voted unanimously to approve the Zoning Text Amendment. A development at 1900 Chapman Avenue filed the ZTA. Its final extension would have expired this August.
Photo: City of Rockville
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Montgomery County Police report that the state medical examiner has ruled the deaths of Richard and Julianne Vilardo of Rockville as "homicides that were caused by sharp force injuries."
Detectives are also investigating new information that Richard and Julianne Vilardo were in the Charles Town, West Virginia area on Saturday evening, May 9. The couple had dinner with friends there, police say. The Vilardos came home that evening, and were found dead by family members the next day at their home on Ridge Drive.
With the ruling of the medical examiner, the possibility that a murderer is at large is now confirmed. Whether that person or persons lives in the area, or remains in the area is a major question - as is the motive in the homicides - in relation to whether this indicates an ongoing danger to the community, or an isolated incident.
Anyone with information regarding the deaths of Richard and Julianne Vilardo is asked to contact Montgomery County Police at 301.279.8000. For those who wish to remain anonymous and be eligible for up to a $10,000 reward, please call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Another long Mayor and Council meeting threatened to go beyond the hoped-for 11:00 PM time limit Monday night. That led to what, by my recollection, is a rare occurrence - the Mayor and Council voting in advance to end the meeting by 11:00.
The motion passed 3-2, with Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmembers Virginia Onley and Beryl Feinberg voting in favor.
Most of the meeting was taken up with the complex discussion of the Compensation and Classification report regarding city employees. That discussion concluded with Newton and Onley seeking more clarification on at least one point from city staff and the consulting firm. City Manager Barbara Matthews said she did not want to set a date for that continuation before having a better sense of when staff would have that data ready to present.
The meeting was adjourned around 11:00, as voted upon.
The couple was last known to be alive Saturday night, May 9, detectives say. But they've revealed that the presumed killer may have entered the Vilardo home through an unlocked window. The window in question was not broken, but was likely unlatched, they said.
Results from the state medical examiner in Baltimore are still pending, police said yesterday.
The announcement is troubling for the community, as it suggests the possibility that a killer is at large. However, police are not characterizing the situation that way yet, and we can't say for sure until the medical examiner provides more information. It does sound unlikely that this was a domestic dispute, if there is evidence of a third party intruder. That would indeed be of concern to residents, unless it can be determined that this was not a random act of robbery or home invasion.
Anyone with information regarding the deaths of Richard and Julianne Vilardo is asked to contact Montgomery County Police at 301.279.8000.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Police say both victims were found with "trauma" to the upper body. Julianne Vilardo was found inside the home, and Richard Vilardo was located in the backyard.
Detectives say the two were scheduled to meet family members yesterday morning. When they did not arrive, family members went to the home, where they found the two deceased and called 911.
An autopsy will be performed by the state medical examiner in Baltimore, police said yesterday.
The Washington Post reports that Richard Vilardo was a co-founder of Pinnacle Hotel Management, which develops Marriott and Hilton hotels.
Anyone with information regarding the deaths of Richard and Julianne Vilardo is asked to contact Montgomery County Police at 301.279.8000.
Photo via Montgomery County Police
Friday, May 8, 2015
That task force is holding meetings to discuss the new taxing authority in Rockville amongst themselves. But there will be a "Public Forum" on the unpopular proposal on June 17, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, in the 3rd floor Hearing Room of the County Council office building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. In the meeting agenda posted online, it says the topics will be the ITA's organization, transfer of functions from existing county agencies (a major point of contention for UFCW Local 400/MCGEO Union President Gino Renne), and - most important to you, the taxpayer - the financial and fiscal implications of the new taxing authority. Questions the task force wants your feedback on will be provided to the public via the Transit Task Force website prior to the forum. However, just what the ability of the public to speak at the forum will be is not specified. Is it a public hearing with a 3 minute speaking time? Or is it a forum where the public will simply be spoken to?
It must be noted that, like the BRT hearing 3 years ago, this forum is being held in the summer. Parents no doubt know that this June 17 meeting will come just after the end of the Montgomery County Public School year. That means many will be leaving for their first summer vacation, which will certainly hold down attendance.
That's probably not an accident. You'd schedule a forum for summer, too, if you were trying to ram through an unelected body that can be handpicked by the County Executive.
An unelected body that can exceed all existing caps and restrictions on tax increases (in fact, the task force is going to be discussing on June 3 the "merits of empowering [the] County to exceed Charter limitations in several respects"). Not the negatives, of course!
Keep in mind that this is the same task force that suggested you should pay a new, 15% property tax increase to fund the BRT system that will primarily benefit real estate developers. You would pay, not the developers, and this was a countywide tax proposal. Do the math.
It's also the same task force whose chairman Mark Winston - as I reported two years ago - could directly benefit financially from the creation of the ITA and a BRT system. Winston, leading the effort to "get you out of your car," memorably admitted "it has been a while" since he rode a bus himself. Something he has in common with the "pro-transit" County Council and Planning Board, as well.
Remember also that this unelected ITA, as described in the legislation the task force is discussing, would not have to show its budget to any elected official. To quote the actual legislation, the ITA would not be required "to submit its capital or its operating budget to the County for approval."
Incredible. Unelected and unaccountable.
Don't forget that the proposal also allows the ITA to take on unlimited debt. It also allows the County Council and Executive to transfer unlimited amounts of debt to the ITA - and then the ITA could use its literally unlimited taxing power to make you pay those unlimited amounts. Unreal.
The ITA would also have unlimited power to seize private property, and sell it at a sweetheart price to developers who contribute to the elected official who appointed them. It would have the power to carry out the demolition of homes and businesses, and not have to answer to the outrage of the landowners at the ballot box.
And speaking of ballots - the legislation would include a provision that would make it impossible for you, the citizens, to put a referendum on the ballot to bring the ITA taxing power under any control or limitation.
This proposal was thoroughly rejected by the citizens and county employees - yet here it comes again, as they do what they do best in the MoCo political machine: ram it through.
Save the date.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
A "kick-off meeting" is being held this Saturday, May 9, in the Buchanan Room at the VisArts Center, at 155 Gibbs Street in Rockville Town Square. The meeting will run from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturday.
The Rockville 2040 discussion will cover everything from development to facilities to the environment. For more information on the plan process, and the different ways you can give input, visit the Rockville 2040 website.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
A report outlining the needs of the facility, and the proposed options for renovation, is available to read online.